Are Those No-Wash T-shirts Worth It?
Laundry is a pretty tedious task. The washing, the sorting, the folding, the hanging. That's not even taking into account those of us who have to walk 15 miles in the snow, uphill both ways, to the closest laundromat!
Wouldn't it just be easier if we never had to wash our clothes again? Yes, it would. But would it actually be better? That's the question that one Wall Street Journal writer wanted to answer.
The short answer: Kind of.
Jacob Gallagher tried a few different T-shirts for this experiment, all billed as moisture- and odor-wicking to minimize the need to launder after one wash.
For roughly 30 days, I’ve worn three T-shirts that are marketed as needing less frequent washing due to their odor-resistant and moisture-wicking properties. Instead of relegating them to the hamper after one wear as I do with regular cotton tees, I shook them out, praying a few hearty cracks would eradicate city stenches and any armpit musk. For the most part, it worked: Throughout my month of stink testing, I never detected any foul aromas. And, yes, my nose works.
Two of the three shirts I tested contained merino wool, which is said to resist odor naturally thanks to the fiber’s waxy coating, lanolin. Though merino-wool outdoor gear has been around since at least the mid-1990s when REI-type brands like Smartwool emerged, labels including Outlier, Unbound, Wool & Prince and Rhone have more recently begun to market basic merino-wool and wool-blend shirts for everyday wear.
He interviewed frequent travelers who want to avoid laundry on the road, including entrepreneur Zach Boyette, who claims the Wool & Prince merino T-shirts have "totally changed the game" for him. The company's founder, Mac Bishop, told Gallagher that he typically wears the shirts about 20 times each before needing to wash them.
Obviously, there are variables here. If you spill something on your shirt, you can still wash it. And, also, everyone is different. So, if you start smelling a little gamey on the 15th day of wearing the same shirt, you don't have to be stubborn and hold out until day 20.
Gallagher did find a few downsides to this experiment, though. He found that wool/nylon shirts from Pangaia felt clingy and itchy, and he thought the "creamy" color of the Wool & Prince undyed wool shirt looked "less fresh than one of pure-white cotton."
His favorite was one from Pangaia that was made with cotton and seaweed fiber. Pangaia boasted online that seaweed is moisture-absorbing, and the peppermint oil with which it is treated has antibacterial properties. His only problem with that shirt is that Pangaia's logo was on the front, so it was obvious that Gallagher had been wearing the same shirt for days.
So, while we're still hunting for the perfect T-shirt that will never require washing, never need folding, never be subject to the brutal force of the washer and dryer, this is good news to laundry haters and environmentally-conscious consumers.